Why I dropped the Red Scarlet Dream and Got a Canon 5D Mark II

UPDATED 6 November 2011
 
I’m no longer dreaming of Scarlet, but the Canon Cinema DSLR.
 
The Scarlet dream was essentially crushed due to its delay and as that day has finally arrived (3 Nov. 2011), I’m glad I didn’t wait. I can’t afford this dream. But the Scarlet-X announcement wasn’t really that shocking. As I noted when I wrote the original article back in March:
 

Jim Jannard, the founder and visionary behind the RED camera, explained how the higher-end Scarlet is being renamed the Epic-S (a light version of the Epic-X) and it will be a professional camera priced at about $12,000 — and that this will be shipping after the Epic M and X models.

 
The writing, apparently, was on the RED User wall, for all to read. The higher-end Scarlet didn’t become the Epic-S — it became the Scarlet-X, and all lower end models (3K and less expensive) went out the door. Many were in denial, but the Canon 5D Mark II was the game-changer that sunk the original Scarlet ship. Believe me, I was holding out for the original $3500 Scarlet, then I thought maybe I could save enough for a $6500 Scarlet, but then I saw the 5D Mark II in the artistic hands of Shane Hurlbut, ASC on the set of Po Chan’s “The Last 3 Minutes”:
 

 
I observed, I thought, I asked questions. I changed my mind. That’s what critical and creative thinkers do. We don’t hold on to one way of doing things. Otherwise we become rigid and old. I purchased a 5D Mark II with several Zeiss Contax lenses and Canon’s 70-200mm f/2.8 — all cheaper than the old $6500-7000 Scarlet. I have no regrets. I never feel like I’m shooting video or shooting on a video camera when the 5D Mark II is in my hands. It feels like the time I shot on 16mm film with an Arriflex camera back at NYU. I feel excited about filmmaking again. (I never felt that way with 1/3-inch prosumer video cameras.)
 
Because of the 5D Mark II and the subsequent sales of Canon’s 7D ($1700), 60D ($1000), and Rebel models (under $1000) the prosumer video camera market — formerly stuck in the 1/3-inch sensor scale (17.3mm squared), evolved. They had to. And Panasonic’s AF100 (micro 4/3 sensor at 178mm squared) and Sony’s FS100 (S35 sensor at 313.9mm squared) at about $5000 (for the body) sealed the deal against the lower-priced, 2/3-inch (58.1mm squared) Scarlet’s fate. RED would have to release a $3000-35000 Scarlet with that chip size to stay competitive with DSLRs and the newer prosumer video cameras. But that was never their market — they’re selling the camera of the 4K and higher future.

And Canon, with its concept 4K cinema DSLR (mirrorless) to be released, perhaps, within 12 months, is already nipping at RED’s heal, trying to buy into that future pioneered by Jim Jannard and his team.
 
——————————-
ORIGINAL article 1 March 2011:
It appears that the HDSLR revolution may have forced the original vision of RED’s Scarlet into extinction. OK, as Mr. Spock said, an exaggeration. But it has been nearly three years since the original announcement at NAB, and still no Scarlet:

 

 

No Film School posted how the high end Scarlet is being replaced by the Epic-S camera for around $12,000 (formerly announced at nearly $7,000).

 

Jim Jannard, the founder and visionary behind the RED camera, explained how the higher-end Scarlet is being renamed the Epic-S (a light version of the Epic-X) and it will be a professional camera priced at about $12,000 — and that this will be shipping after the Epic M and X models:

 

I know many of you are waiting to hear what is happening on the EPIC-S front. While I still don’t have final details from the engineers, here is what we know now.

 

1. We have moved from the less robust Scarlet S35 chassis to the EPIC S35 chassis (like going from the economy car frame to the truck frame). Pro, not prosumer. […]

 

5. Price has risen due to the chassis and HDRx™ change/additions. Expect somewhere in the neighborhood of $12K. Package prices will be posted as soon as we are sure what they will be. We will not post another “interim” price structure in the meantime. Next price posting will be final.

 

6. EPIC-S will use the same production line as its big brothers (which we are setting up now in California) so there will be no additional delays to produce this model. However, the EPIC-M and EPIC-X models will be released 1st as has previously been noted. […]

 

Given the competitive landscape, we think that the EPIC-S will have no price/performance competition. Think 5K, REDCODE RAW, HDRx™, record to SSD, modular system, size of a Hasselblad with many mature professional workflow options. (Epic-S (old Scarlet S35) update, Jan. 1, 2011).

 

I was — and still a little — excited about the Scarlet. Last year, I researched my book, DSLR Cinema: Crafting the Film Look with Video (Focal Press, 2011):

 

During this research, I interviewed Ted Schilowitz, Number 2, at Red, and he discussed how Red is focused on resolution as the key to attaining cinematic image quality:

 

We at Red are resolution fiends. We believe the more the better. We believe in the history and the legacy of celluloid and the reasons why film has lasted so long and has been so successful through so many other technological changes is that there is a nice amount of usable resolution in shooting 35 mm film to get it up to large size cinema screens.

 

In short, HDSLRs are good as “still cameras”, but limited resolution prevents them becoming cinema cameras, Schilowitz feels.

 

Indeed, many people, including me, held out, hoping for the release of Red’s Scarlet any month now. Even last month we saw footage of a real Scarlet, so we know it’s coming sometime (perhaps at this year’s NAB — but I’m not holding my breath):

Ted Schilowitz shows of the Scarlet, recently at the Consumer’s Electronic Show:

 

 

While doing this research in Los Angeles last March, in which I interviewed Philip Bloom, Jared Abrams, Ted Schilowitz, Jeremy Ian Thomas, Neil Smith, Shane Hurlbut, ASC, among others for the book, I planned on purchasing a Scarlet. I came out of the Red Studios tour with Schilowitz convinced that holding out for the best was the way to go. In Schilowitz’s words at the end of the interview:

 

If you are looking to move into a camera that is going to be very affordable, that is going to shoot the kind of motion picture images you want, extract the kind of stills that you want to get out of it simultaneously, and you are not an EPIC customer because you are not talking about $30 to $40 thousand dollars in terms of the full-on set of gear (which is still remarkably inexpensive for professional use), but if you are under that [budget], if you are an indy film maker, a student film maker, if you are a high end amateur, then look at the success that has come before with the Red One and make a choice because [the Scarlet] is like a miniature version of that.

 

Great resolution, great functions (XLR inputs, RED RAW codec, and so forth) — why would I get a Canon 5D Mark II if I can get a cinema camera for another $1500 or so. Get real.

Then I darted over through the Hollywood traffic to Hdi RAWworks and talked with Neil Smith, the company’s CEO, who had originally developed it as a postproduction house for the Red camera. He told me last March (2010) that Red would have a hard time delivering the Scarlet, because they didn’t have the infrastructure to handle a large volume of sales that, for example, Canon was getting with their cameras.

 

I wasn’t convinced. Any company can market a product and get it to the consumers’ hands. However, here’s Smith’s clincher that made me doubt my Scarlet dreams (as transcribed in my interview with him):

 

We are a Red house, we know image quality, we graded the first 4K images off of the first spread. We understand all about color space and resolution. And then we got Rodney [Charters, ASC, dp of 24] to come in here one day and do a comparison test. […] And they shot here on the lot a Red, a [Canon] 5D and a [Canon] 7D. And I don’t know if Jeremy [Ian Thomas] showed you the footage? He should have, if he didn’t show it to you, you should have a quick look at that. Because we did this. Rodney was with us for a day.

 

He shot Red, 5D, and 7D and we made this nice little story and they shot it here on the lot and we showed this intercut demo to hundreds of people, ASC DPs, independent filmmakers, documentary makers […]. And we actually showed [the film] in a room of 200 filmmakers at HD Expo in October of last year. We asked everybody, if you can guess absolutely correctly which is Red, 5D, which is 7D and we will buy you the best meal you ever had. Have not had to buy a meal.

 

My heart beat faster. What? Professional image makers couldn’t tell the difference? I mean, haven’t scientific tests (as Schilowitz mentioned in his interview) been done?

In fact, chip chart tests support Red’s position:

 

 

Certainly, the 7D looks weak on this chart. Why couldn’t these filmmakers see it? At the end of the interview, Smith walked me over to Jeremy Thomas’ editing suite and they put up Rodney Charters, ASC film — “Dream in Possible” — onto a studio quality plasma screen:

 

 

They offered me the same deal. Guess which camera was behind particular shots, and they would give me a free meal. I guessed wrong, just like many of the others — including, according to Smith, Schilowitz himself.

 

Later, doing additional research, I came across Jared Abrams’s (Cinema 5D news) interview with Lucasfilm’s head of postproduction, Mike Blanchard, who felt that DSLR footage wouldn’t hold up to the big screen — but then discovered otherwise:

“Certainly when we just look at the footage and put it on a big screen it holds up way better than it has a right to,” he says. A lot of people get caught up in the numbers game, comparing one type of camera to another, he continues, such as the argument that

 

film is 4K, blah, blah, blah. You know, it’s really not, because nobody ever sees a projected negative. So by the time you do a release print and [put it] through its paces, it’s no way near [what] a lot of people claim that it really is. So the great part about working at Lucasfilm, for people like Rick [McCallum] and George [Lucas] — working for them — is that you just show them things and that’s where it ends. We don’t do little charts about how it doesn’t have that or it doesn’t do that. We make it work. And that’s just a beautiful way to do work, because it opens up everything. (Interview with Jared Abrams, 15 April 2010).

 

 

Blanchard is right in the 2K world, but 4K? Perhaps film does drop to around 2K after it comes to our local theaters, but when those local theaters start screening on 4K projectors, then Red’s ahead of the game.

 

Despite all of this, I decided to purchase a Canon 5D Mark II and never looked back. If the Scarlet came out for $3700, perhaps I would consider it, but whatever the new price will be (perhaps $5,000, but perhaps higher), it’s still a lot more than a $800 Canon Rebel — and, yes, deservedly so (the Scarlet will out perform the Rebel, so there’s no argument there).

 

And now Sony and Panasonic have released prosumer video cameras with larger chips, because they realized that there’s a market for cinema-like cameras and the ENG market — at least for low budget cinema makers, independents, and cinema students — just wasn’t good enough when faced with the soul of the Canon HDSLR camera.

 

I’ve seen Lena Dunham’s Tiny Furniture, beautifully shot by Jody Lee Lipes on a Canon 7D. I watched it at New York City’s Independent Film Channel movie theater in November — so it was on a big screen. Here’s a preview:

 

 

In short, the story’s good and the 7D delivered a strong cinematic image (despite all the published information about its weaknesses with moire, rolling shutter, chip charts, blah, blah, blah, to quote Blanchard from Lucasfilm). The movie delivered, because it had a strong story and I didn’t see any weaknesses in the cinematography, despite it being shot on a $1700 camera. The camera can deliver a cinematic look in the hands of a good cinematographer.

 

And in my classroom of 24 students in an introduction to video production class at Northern Arizona University, every one of them loved using Canon’s Rebel T2i (the School of Communication purchased 18 of them). Some of my students purchased their own cameras, and for $800 how can you go wrong?

 

Even if you have to spend another $1,000 to get good audio and other accessories, you’re still paying less than a prosumer video camera. And for the first time in eight years of teaching such classes, I’m seeing better looking images coming out of that little Rebel than $3500 video cameras. And now I’m teaching a class on DSLR Cinematography. It could be taught with prosumer video cameras, but why waste the money on a $3500 camera, when you can do more with an $800 camera?

 

Let’s face it, it appears Canon beat Red at their own game (at least in the $2K market).

—-

Kurt Lancaster, PhD, is the author of “DSLR Cinema: Crafting the Film Look with Video, Focal Press, 2011.” He teaches digital filmmaking and multimedia journalism at Northern Arizona University’s School of Communication.

44 thoughts on “Why I dropped the Red Scarlet Dream and Got a Canon 5D Mark II

  1. The comparison video is a joke. I just skimmed through but in two shots the warmer tone on the 7D footage is surely an issue of color balance on camera or grading in post. This kind of comparison makes me quite angry. Its certainly not informative.

    1. Tim:

      You’re reacting emotionally and on the verge of becoming troll-like, so I’m hesitant to post this. Read the article. In the future, post comments that are logical, not emotionally-reactive. Does it really matter the 7D is warmer? It’s a known factor. The point: when color graded, most (if not all) professionals could not tell the difference. This video presents some of the details on that difference.

      Kurt

  2. HD DSLRs are indeed a wonderful thing, and to a certain extent, make a fine learning tool. But there’s no single perfect camera. No, not even a Red.

    You rent or own the best camera for the job. From GoPro to Epic and beyond.

  3. The images are pretty nice with the HDSLRs, but one thing not many blogs talk about is that you have to EASILY and QUICKLY USE the camera meaning walk or run around, shift positions and angles, change settings, etc. I used to shoot weddings and events with a SONY shouldermount DSR200 and although bigger and heavier, I could quickly and easily, move around, change settings, and record 2 channel audio. Now with HDSLRs, even though lighter and smaller, it seems more difficult to actually USE the camera. What we need is a 5D or 7D but with all the video functions and form factor but less than $3000. Filmmakers might love the HDSLRs but event shooters may have mixed feelings? I would like to hear comments from event shooters…. Have you tried maneuvering between bridal parties or reception guests with a 7D with all the “gear” attached to it?

  4. hi, just a few thoughts.
    event shooting needs focus and exposure assist, long roll times to capture the toasts, etc.
    i use 8 small sony’s, full 1920 by 1080 capture with great audio, great battery life, flash memory capture, huge screen.
    one is rigged just like my canon for the prep, with matte box, stereo shotgun, handle and rails. 7 more, plain rigged,
    used for ceremony and reception coverage wide angles and backup audio. graduations, dance recitals, etc.
    fine results, long form output, deep focus is fine, covering prep, ceremony and reception.
    for commercial and corporate and musicvideo work, it is my fully rigged canon 5d all the way.
    i shoot single system with GREAT audio results, too. wireless or shotgun, manual or auto.
    so, i keep the two sets of gear ready for either of the two needs.
    for instance, who would want to shoot a two hour legal deposition on the canon?
    a dance recital? a 35 minute father of the bride toast?
    anyhow, i love my 5dm2, used it for tvnews single system from day one, one man band reporter.
    tv commercials quickly followed. my 4 full size broadcast video rigs now sit dusty.
    what I, average video guy needs, is this simplicity, to be able to shoot great clean footage
    and edit in FCP without crazy transcoding hassles, and create commercials and event videos
    and actually make money hitting the streets with it day in and day out.
    not everyone is trying to do “cinema” and be the next “artist”. the 5dm2 has let me make
    money, costing what a few AB batteries or a lit pixel repair used to cost me on my 20 sony body.
    amazing how 2 years of this unit has changed in my small little world, in a small market.
    thanks, -g

    1. Fantastic! We have students at Northern Arizona University who use the Rebel T2i to shoot news sports for NAZ Today.

  5. Dark images. Minor CC.
    What about dynamic range?
    Anyone thought of that?

    I’m not offering the dinner at Mastro’s, but I got a $20 in hand that says if you tried to bring up the darks, the RED would come out way way ahead, and the h.264 (even Magic Lantern flashed) hdslr’s would come grainy as a Fisher-Price PixelVision.

    You guys have heard of DI, no?

    BTW, I love my T2i, but a man’s gotta know his (camera’s) limitations…

  6. I don’t think RED was ever in the $2K market to begin with…certainly, Canon has given RED a lot of good reasons not to bother playing in the lower-end of the price point spectrum. I think RED made a great move including new innovations, such as HDRx and Magic Motion technologies, in all of their soon-to-be-released (by NAB) cameras, including the SCARLET fixed. I’m actually happy to see RED exit the lower-end – they would have had to make too many compromises to compete. They are going a different direction which doesn’t involve compromise, which is more in-line with their mission to introduce the most innovative technologies at the best possible price points.

    That is not Canon’s mission – selling lenses is Canon’s real mission. Until the near-accidental success of the 5D, cameras were really an excuse for selling lenses, a higher profit margin product for them, and they sell a much higher ratio of lenses to cameras. That was their business model. I’m sure that mix has shifted a bit, since they started selling tons of these cameras.

    But Canon’s release of the hybrid was never as intentional as it probably should have been and was geared towards photojournalists, not filmmakers – the camera reflects that choice in terms of the compromises required for it to adapt to other applications. HDSLRs are great for what they do and for what they cost…I own a 7D, and I like it. But I have to say that I believe that, if you can afford it, an uncompromised image and tool set is worth paying for…

    1. Mersoz is bang on with what he said. I read a comment somewhere else on the same topic that DSLR is the future of film. It makes me wince. DSLR will never sustain as a film-makers dream camera. If money wasn’t a factor I think a lot more people would opt for a Red camera. I saw a review Epic vs 5D for the web and it was very noticeable; the 5D took longer in post to colour grade to the standards of the Epic. The results achieved by the 5D were good but the epic smashed it.

      It’s very easy for George Lucas and his post-production team to say “Yeah, sure. That’s fine.. make it work” Abrams and the rest have all the people with all the skills and more time to work in post. In the real world it’s not like that. It’s much more efficient to shoot with a Red camera.

  7. I’m not commenting directly about Red vs Canon, but regarding some claims that even if you shoot on Canon you can still have your film accepted into festivals and even shown in movie theaters… The fact that Tiny Furniture and other films shot on Canons or other lower end HD cameras get into film festivals is not an indication of their quality, but an indication of connections and patronage the filmmakers have. Since when unknown, talented people were allowed to “break” into one of the most protected and hermetic industries in the world? Trust me, if you have connections and know people you can shoot your film on an iphone and it will get into Cannes, even if you movie is complete shit. Or you can shoot 35mm and have an amazing movie made up of unknown but brilliant cast, amazing cinematography, great direction and script and still wind up in a toilet. That’s the reality.

    1. Albert:

      I haven’t seen any claim that if you shoot on a DSLR you’ll get a film accepted. Cite your sources! Do you know for a fact–do you have proof–that the director of Tiny Furniture had a connection to South X Southwest or that this connection led to her award for the film last year? Support your claims with evidence.

      I can’t speak for specific screening committees at Cannes or Sundance, etc., but I have served on documentary screening committees at smaller festivals before, and politics–and the type of camera used–had nothing to do with the screening selection. The quality of the story (the content) was the number one factor in making decisions.

      You’re on the border of being libelous and you should read a book on critical thinking before making broad emotional claims. I’m not denying that in some cases what you claim may happen. However, without evidence, without proof, without concrete examples your claims fall flat and can be easily denied and ends up sounding bitter. Use logic and facts to support your claims, otherwise the emotional rant bleeds out over the page it does nothing to support your position.

      For example, Shane Hurlbut, ASC didn’t break into the industry through connections. He worked hard at a production facility in Boston, moved to Hollywood, did similar work as a grip, and used his skills to work his way up to becoming a cinematographer.

      1. Mr. Condescending. He did say it was an ‘INDICATION’. Now I don’t know about you but to me that isn’t stating fact. It’s very logical to presume in the film-industry, like many other industries that WHO YOU KNOW, gets you far. Networking is a big part of the industry. You can apply the whole ‘I got my film showed at this film festival because I knew this person who knew this person who dated my sister’ to almost any situation, e.g. all the jobs at the local shop get passed around to friends and family, employee’s friends and family before being offered externally. Internal applicants *wink*. It’s almost common knowledge. In fact that has happened at nearly every job I have worked, including when I worked with photographers at a tabloid paper. 80% of the photographers were brought on by someone they knew, another was leaving to join his friend at another press office. Specifically speaking on which film-makers know who, and who kissed who’s sister. We will never know. I think it’s quite fair to indicate, or have suspicions, but after that his post went into a broad topic of it’s ‘who you know’.

        Fact is not a lot of artists have that business flair. So a lot can go unnoticed for a long time, if not their whole life.

  8. This all makes me want to hue/cry. I’m in your camp. Use what works for you. The problem with Scarlet was Ted Schilowitz’s “soccer mom’s” referral at Scarlet’s introduction, then rattled off the camera’s proposed features. “Wow,” I thought, “sounds like a mini digital Hassleblad mated to a mini Cine-Alta! $3000 with a LCD & Zeiss zoom!? I’m in!”

    Of course, internally IB in stitches, lol, verily mocking the entire proposition. I figured anyone dumb enough to show/tell the competition a product’s form and features (even in relative detail) had better come out with it within a year, max…the very year the economy collapsed into what most likely will be a decade recovery, no less? (Ok, niche markets are crazy anyway. I’m still in. (?)

    A year passed. Virtually all the major camera companies began serious development into an already known form factor with quality lenses. Hello avchd (mocked upon its introduction).

    Another year passed. Now the competition upped the anti to prosumer range w/hd features. No Scarlet. Once I saw the Scarlet form factor and add-on’s the idea of $3000 metamorphosed into 5k, more like $7k. Development dragged thru the second year with a lot of bs–prototype experiments, blah, blah, blah improvements, features, progress this/that. What’s the problem?! Minimally, it’s a known technology to the inventor. TWO YEARS already?

    Now the third year. OMG, no Scarlet. 3k soccer mom out of luck, lol. Now looking at minimum 5+k, more like 10+k. So okay, it’ll be quite the gizmo…if/when it arrives or isn’t morphed into yet another advanced ($) “next year” form factor. ‘Expect everything to change, including the price.’ Excuse me?! Sounds like someone putting off the inevitable, bit off way more than they could chew, trying justify new priceline via tweak/feature…but no tangible product, mysterioso springsummerfallwinter timeline.

    Meanwhile, back at the ranch, competition whittles away at technology, firmware/software to hone in on each little “indie” dream camera spec and capability. (Where’s my DVX-100b when I need it!)

    And you know, all I care about in film is the STORY, how well it’s told and portrayed. 8mm, 16mm, pin-hole, Powerpoint, Cine-Alta, etc. Whatever. Content well done always trumps format/technical issues. “Blair Witch” did ok, no? These days cameras have mini Rank Cintel’s in them, then photoshop/FCP, digital transfer et al. Last time I saw photo of Agnes Varda she made a film with a $250 consumer cam. Pfft.

    Is this incarnation of the Red dead? Most likely in the expected form and price range, it is. Three years testing, modifying, tweaking, courting, intimating, teasing ‘Just wait, it’ll revolutionize indie film making!’ What revolutionizes film industry is good story telling. Use what’s in your hands. If it’s a digital Rebel, fine. iPhone, fine. Coax more out of $1000. I paid $750 for my Panasonic HDC-TM700. The Red is dead…unless they can get one into my hands under 5k; then it’s worth a look…with skewed jaundiced eye.

  9. FILM!

    I work on my first littel film and use much i7 2600k because much 3d stuff in maya max and co…
    And i film most parts with an nikon d3100 and waht i get in front.
    That`s it. Then post, a good sounddepartement ( and a cool music director who transforms my korg roland and
    emu-sampel art from emagig9 to a 70 humans chamber orchester.)
    if i pass filmcut and all taht stuff i hope..it wil be seen as an litte 15 minutes artwork on some festivals..like
    sundance 2012 in london.
    After that i go on… i am a storywriter in first, cameraman, 3d, soundartist, directoe in next ans in 4 years 10k red-epic-2
    MIKE

  10. Hello June 2011.

    Red Scarlet is all over the net from NAB 2011 in fine form, with a $6K price tag and “months away, not years”. Sounds like Fall 2011 [and roll up your sleeves for late Spring/Summer 2012 shipping and a long wait list].

    You know Canon is hard at work too. They completely stole a major portion of the low-end-pro market and want to keep it. The Canon 5D Mark III should be right around the corner as well.

    Both companies are waiting each other out. Canon has won a lot of fans that are now invested in Canon glass and accessories (and who love the efficiency of one camera for both images and cinema). However, Canon’s celebrated cameras have some serious professional limitations (compression, moire issues, jelly issues, overheating and sound issues). Red has an ideal pedigree and solves the pro issues in spades. If the Red Scarlet can deliver the quality at an attractive price point then they’re in the low-end-pro game.

    However, Red has a major uphill battle. For all the advantages of the Scarlet (as demo’d at NAB)–resolution, included screen, clever built in remote, and dreamy compression–they are competing against a camera that has interchangeable lenses and more flexibility to choose your accessories. And lets face it: choosing the accessories is fun. The HDSLR brings the culture of “hot-rodding” to prosumer video. If Canon’s new 5D offers better compression and solves the moire, overheating and jelly issues then the Red Scarlet is gonna have to be priced in a way that gets our attention. 3K is nice if your goal is film theaters, but it seems like overkill if that’s not your goal (like most people working in this camera price range).

    Each company wants the other to announce their product first so the other can line up their camera to beat it. Canon wants to keep dominating this market and Red wants a piece of the pie.

  11. Canon 5D Mark ii + Canon HFS200 dedicated camcorder beats the Red Epic hands down, costing 1/10 as much!

    A Canon-based 9shooter system (with the Canon 5D Mark ii & HFS200) costs less than 1/10 cost of the RED EPIC and can be hand-held, as it is far lighter and smaller. The 9shooter also carries the advantages of redundancy and both dedicated stabilization for stills and dynamic stabilization for video, and one can use standard Canon lenses. In a showdown, the <$5,000 9shooter system would beat the $58,000+ EPIC RED hands down. And just you wait until the 9shooter with a Canon 5D Mark III & Mark IV!
    http://blog.9shooter.com/2011/06/canon-based-nine-shooter-9shooter-4500.html

    In a showdown, the 9shooter beats the EPIC RED hands down.

    1. Thats like saying a Ford Mustang will beat a Ferrari 0-60. Does it make it a better car?

      It beats it in an extremely narrow field.

      Resolution? Dynamic Range? Raw? FPS?

      If someone was to give you one of the cameras for free, would you seriously chose the “9shooter”?

      The 5D is great for narrative indie film making on a budget. Most likely one of the best deals out there. But, lets not get to crazy there big guy. Next time bring an Alexa.

      1. Well, let’s see what happens when the cameras go head-to-head at the US Open World Surfing Championships in Huntington Beach, a stone’s throw from RED’s home.

        9shooter Beats (out-surfs) Red Epic in Shooting Video & Stills @ the Same Time @ the 2011 US Open in Surfing in Huntington Beach

        http://blog.9shooter.com/2011/08/9shooter-beats-out-surfs-red-epic-at.html

        9shooter Beats (out-surfs) Red Epic in Shooting Video & Stills @ the Same Time @ the 2011 US Open in Surfing in Huntington Beach
        Firstoff, I bet that Canon comes out with a 2K/3K/4K DSLR camera in a year or so, and a 5k in a couple years. 🙂

        Well, we keep hearing about how the Red Epic can shoot “Getty Worthy” stills & video @ the same time, but Steve Weinrebe points out, “I don’t see the Epic listed on Getty Images’ approved camera list for contributors,” whereas all the cameras that are listed are compatible with the 9shooter setup, including, “the Canon 5D, Canon EOS 1D Mk 1, 2 & 3, Canon EOS 1DS Mk 1, 2 & 3 Canon EOS 30 and 40D, Nikon D2X and D3 and the Nikon D200 & D300 and the Lecia M8.” So if you really want to shoot Getty-worthy stills while shooting video dudes & dudettes, 9shooter’s the way to go!

        9shooter slow-mo video of 10-time world champion Kelly Slater winning the 2011 US Open shot at full 1080 HD @ 60p at the same time I was shooting stills:
        http://blog.9shooter.com/2011/08/9shooter-beats-out-surfs-red-epic-at.html

        Kelly Slater completely dominated the final heat in capturing the US Open of Surfing Title this past weekend, defeating Australian Yadin Nicol. Sfgate.com reported on Slater’s epic shutout:
        “I guess Yadin (Nicol) wanted me to win because he didn’t catch any waves,” said Slater, referring to Nicol’s meager point total of 2.57 from catching just one wave in the final. “I was just really frustrated for him because he was sitting out the back waiting for the big sets and the big sets were close outs. The small ones he was just two far outside and I got them. I think what happened is I got the 8.50 to start and he was just going to be patient. If he got a good one he would have thrown a big rotator, but it just never came.”
        Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/csaatsaz/detail?entry_id=94950#ixzz1UjgGilIq
        Well, that’s the exact same way we felt about the Red Epic–“I guess the Red Epic wanted the 9shooter to win because the Red Epic didn’t take any pictures nor video of the event–the Red Epic didn’t catch any waves.”

        Yes, folks. It seems the Red Epic just didn’t show, and as hockey great Wayne Gretsky stated, “I missed every shot I never took.” I looked up and down the beach, but I could see no Red Epic, and as huge and bulky as it is, it would have been hard to miss! And if the Red Epic had shown, imagine how much it would have cost to shoot the final three days the of the US Open–easily over 20x the cost of the 9shooter! Check out the Epic hidden cost of the Red Epic: http://www.theblackandblue.com/2011/08/04/epic-cost/. And still, it would have lacked the dynamic video stabilization which allowed me to catch the video below while zoomed out 20x from a monopod. I would love to see some 20x zoomed footage of the Red Epic from a monopod or tripod even, following a surfer who is zigging, zagging, cutting, and jumping!

        Here’re the video and stills we caught with the < $3,500 9-shooter system (pictured below) consisting of a Canon T3i, a 150-500mm Sigma Zoom zoomed out at 500mm, a Panasonic HDC-TM900K zoomed out fully to 20x and shooting full-HD at 1080 60p, and a sturdy Manfroto monopod:
        http://blog.9shooter.com/2011/08/9shooter-beats-out-surfs-red-epic-at.html

        1. p.s. perhaps we’ll see a red epic at next year’s US Open, or at the socal trestles hurley pro in september?

          i mean it’s one thing to give vince laforet and phillip bloom red epics to test in highly-controlled environments, but it would mean a lot more to see the red-epic performing at a world-class event with the world’s top athletes in action, competing head-to-head with the 9shooter.

          surf’s up dudes! hope to see you @ the epic showdown! 🙂

  12. I still cannot bring myself to buy into the DSLR fad. I do weddings on the side and DSLR’s just won’t cut it unless it is for stills.

    I plan to buy a pair of HD cameras, and I have had my eye on the RED Scarlet since 2008. (I currently own a good prosumer set of SD cameras.)The competition is getting better, and time is running out for me. I plan on making the final choice in September, I have a production to shoot. The AF100 is looking better and better, while the FS100 looks great in low light as well, but lacks the ND filter. Red has taken too long to get the Scarlet to the market. It would have been an AWESOME camera in 2009, but it is no longer 2009. These DSLR hybrid video cameras (Af100/FS100 ect…ect…)look to me as the future.

    As much as I would like the Scarlet, it may soon be impracticable. So I am still holding out, but the dream is fading quickly.

    Like anyone with a real budget, the key is knowing the limitations of your equipment and working around it.

    1. Chris:

      Yes, use whatever camera you’re comfortable with. I know people like Patrick Moreau (see http://www.kurtlancaster.com/dslr-cinema/09/06/2011/the-psychology-of-the-lens-patrick-moreau-creates-filmic-intimacy-with-dslrs-at-stillmotion/) is getting great results using DSLRs on professional shoots.

      I do know that these newer video cameras are a direct result of the DSLR competition and that the large sensor video cameras still cannot pull off that quality of work that the full frame sensor of the 5D Mark II delivers–but they’re certainly easier to use with the built in XLR connectors, etc.

      1. Thanks for the link. I have heard of overheating issues, is this a major factor in your experience?

        Each and every cameras has advantages and disadvantages. Maybe I am just scared to plunge into the DSLR world, or I do not want to play with the work arounds.

        I have a project at the end of September, so we will see.

        1. Yes, use the best camera for the job. I’ve been happy with the quality of the images from my 5D Mark II.

  13. Not digging it. What I’m seeing is not desirable regardless of cost. It has to do with light. It looks like fake lighting for lack of a better term. Digital seems to force light to conform to some mathmatical formula that strips the magic out of it. I know I’m not the only one that sees this lack of magic. Sure images are acceptable, but not ideal, and evoke no emotional response like film shots of these sceens would. How about shooting some film of the same and put up side by side?

  14. Ted from RED comes across like a snake-oil salesmen. Less talk and more action is the solution.

    RED over promotes resolution, just like some DSLR camera companies over promote the importance of megapixels. Image quality comes from many factors, not just resolution. For low-light situations, the 12mp Nikon D3s beats anything Canon has hands down.

    In any event, while Ted has been [discussing this camera] for the past few years, ARRI launched the Alexa, a digital cinema camera that provides 14 stops of latitude and fantastic low-light performance, and is made by a company that will probably be around 25 years from now.

    I would much rather rent an Alexa, than buy a Scarlet three or four or seven years from now.

  15. DSLRs are OK, but I don’t want to carry an external audio recorder, hook it up, sync it, and deal with all of the hassles. It takes a larger crew to do that. I want (and have) a true video camera that has XLR jacks, excellent audio capability, and great video in one box.

    I’ve shot with both and I just tend to grab my Panasonic hvx over the Canon DSLR most of the time. It’s just easier, and I can get great footage with a two-man crew.

  16. Hello September 2011.

    Canon announces a Nov 3 “big cinema announcement”.
    Red annonces Nov 3 “Final Scarlet specs and ship date”.

    Pass the popcorn.

  17. If the 7D and the 5D can hold up so well to the Red One why aren’t major Hollywood film being produced with those cameras? They would save a hell of a lot of money. My personal opinion is that in the hands of a great cinematographer sure the 7D and the 5D can closely match the red one; however, in the hands of a novice cinematographer the Red One and even now the Red Epic will always look amazing.

    1. Actually, for big Hollywood budgets, the difference between 30k and 2500k is nothing. The art of cinematography is required no matter what camera you use.

  18. I stumbled upon this article and found it interesting.

    I own and shoot with the 5D mkII for quite a while, but I anxiously wait for RED’s announcement on Nov 3.

    I’m not so happy about 2/3″, but Scarlet is a very interesting concept nonetheless.

    My question to you Kurt: how do you get around aliasing and moiré? Do you have any tips?

    If it weren’t for these two issues I’d never look for anything else. But I hate the fact that on a shoot I might see a (wide) shot where I want semi deep, to deep DOF, and I know that it will never come out clean. Tears my heart out.

    I don’t quite understand how the 5D can be used so extensively on film and TV with these issues. I realize you can work around these issues on a production, but still…

    What say you?

  19. Hello Nov 4

    Scarlet is announced. $14K to make it useable. It’s a very professional camera, however does WAY more than most people need. Lets face it: who out there really needs 4k? And it’s WAY more than most people can spend. Final Scarlet pricing is more than double their last estimates months ago. This is the biggest marketing blunder I’ve seen. Just head over to Scarletuser forum to see a whole forum throwing in the towel in disappointment.

    Kurt: this article was ABSOLUTELY CORRECT. Thanks so much for your time thinking about it. Everyone who followed your thinking into a 5DM2 is looking sharp. Can’t wait to see the Canon 5DM3. Canon is now in a wonderful position to mop up the mess that Red created in a big way.

    In hindsight, I think Red made a good call for them. When everything is said and done they are a small company. They are better off doing one thing well than try to compete in too many markets. I hope they choose to enter the low end pro market some day, however, I expect Canon (and Sony, Panasonic, etc) to make that increasingly difficult.

    1. My guess is that Red didn’t want to release a 2/3″ sensor camera around $5-7,000 because they would still be outsold by Canon’s 5D Mark II, 7D, 60D, Rebel T3i–and Sony’s FS100 and Panasonic’s AF100–all with larger sensors and all cheaper than the Scarlet. They decided to cater to the professional market, rather than the low end prosumer market. I find it difficult to even justify $5,000 for the Sony FS100 body when I can get a 5D Mk II for $2500, plus some lenses and audio gear and I’m at the price point of the Sony.

  20. Oh–one final thought–I used the Sony FS100 on my last shoot. Damn. Nice upgrade to the 5DM2. Killer low light sensitivity. I don’t like the crop factor, but what a charmer.

    1. I haven’t used it. Hard to justify spending that kind of money when I have the 5D MkII! I was certainly impressed with it at NAB last year.

  21. Agreed. I don’t own either and was renting. But I must say, after using the 5DM2 for the previous 2 shoots and being very familiar with their overheating and moire issues, that the FS100 really shines if you’re in a low light situation with a lot of visual elements that would exaggerate the moire.

  22. Wow, how much has changed since this article was first posted. (Thats me up there in August.)

    With the Borlex coming out and now the Blackmagic it is an exciting time to be in the video world! 2.5K RAW for 3K, every soccer mom can have one. Hell the software that is packaged with the Blackmagic camera makes it very much worth the price.

    We will see.

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